A few years ago, I came up with the best New Year’s resolution I could think of: Stop people from taking selfies.
This wasn’t a boycott, per say, but more of a humanitarian decision. “How can I help the human race?” I pondered. Of course, I’m not setting myself up to be Mother Theresa or anything of the sort. And I’m not 100 percent against the selfie, either — though I don’t take one myself and feel incredibly uncomfortable when someone hollers “Take a selfie with me!” — yet it can be immensely difficult for me to sit back and watch, let’s say, a couple trying to angle themselves in front of a stunning landscape and, pre-GoPro explosion, have a stubby arm in the corner of the shot.
I struggle with understanding why there’s a constant need to show everyone exactly what we’re doing at all times, but that’s another rant for another day.
So, the goal was simple — see someone who needs help (or my version of help), and assist.
I had been backpacking through Europe for the first half of that year’s resolution, so it was almost too easy to spot those in need standing in front of a garden in London or the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. As a solo wanderer, I’d notice my target and nonchalantly approach them, simply asking, “Hey, do you want me to take that photo for you?” Casual and straight to the point. And guess what? Nine out of 10 times they said yes. On a couple occasions I danced my way toward foreign couples who didn’t speak any English — and my few broken languages wouldn’t suffice — so I had to hand motion my request.
Confusion aside, most of the time they nodded and handed over their camera. I strayed away from solo snappers, generally assuming they enjoyed the selfie process and didn’t want to be bombarded. I later realized this could’ve been beneficial for making new friends, but, even for me, it felt awkward to approach individuals rather than couples.
I’ve noticed that one of my biggest conflict with something like the selfie is that we are moving away from face-to-face interactions with each other. Who needs a hand from someone else if we’ve got a stick that can replicate the same action successfully? Maybe, in lieu of a better term, my New Year’s resolution at the time was my top-secret mission to connect with people, even for just the length of time it takes to snap a photo. Even that split second is a moment in itself.
I’m all for independence and self-reliance. In your 20s it’s especially important to know who you are and feel most comfortable with the self. However, I think we don’t spend enough time getting to know new people (yes, strangers), and have become almost too focused on the self that even asking someone for something as simple as taking a picture has become out of the norm, daunting even.
That being said, take your selfies!
I promise, I’m not judging. I just hope you’re not too afraid to also ask for a hand, if you need one.
Surprisingly, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Yearly goals seem more realistic. So this one, this year, it’s even simpler than the last.
I’ve decided to ask people if they need help.
It’s not situational or specific. And not in a retail way, but in a straightforward approach. Do you need help with something? I know it’s strange and something we’re not used to. Hey, can I help you with something? I’ve told a few people about this and often they cock their head to the side, seemingly confused. My philosophy? Everyone needs help with one thing or another. And most are afraid to ask for it — some are even more afraid to receive it. Hopefully, even if it’s just with one person, I can change that.